The federal government is considering banning the importation of barite by unbundling it from mud contractors in the industry.
Barite and bentonite calcium carbonate is the primary key raw materials found in Nigeria for oil and gas drilling.
It is used in Germany for road construction, as paints for ships and in x-ray production.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said that local producers of barites will have to first guarantee that they can match the imported quality, price purchased internationally and meet the high demands required by companies in the country.
He said that this can be found under the local content clause of the Executive order 5 signed by President Buhari and if local producers can match the barite requirements of the country, importation of barite will be banned.
Adegbite spoke on Thursday in Abuja when he met with members of the Association of Barite Miners and Processors in Nigeria.
He said, “We need empirical proof of the barite deposits so I am assuming that you are in possession of the data from the Nigerian Mining Corporation that can tell us and tell us some efforts and resources instead of looking for barites all over again, if you do we will welcome it and support you.
“I will be willing to go the whole hog with you to make sure we create the enabling environment to ensure we protect the local industry, ones we are sure that it is a material that can be used and you are able to meet the needs, we will compel these people to buy from you.”
National President of the association, Stephen Alao, pleaded with the ministers to unbundle barite from the mud contractors who down place the price of barite and increase the price of the imported components needed by local operators.
He said: “Barite and bentonite calcium carbonate is the primary key raw materials found in Nigeria for oil and gas drilling.
“There is no substitute for barites in drilling operations but we are having numerous challenges from engaging the big companies who principally are the owners of the companies in Nigeria, they give out the contract as a combined product, so they will down place the price of barite in the drilling mud and increase the price of the imported components.
“One of the principal things we need done is to unbundle barite from the mud contractors.
“Nigeria has the largest known deposit of barite in Africa. We know that if the sector is unbundled the issue of price will not be an issue because the price of barite has not changed in the past 15 years, we are the producers of barite, they will tell you what they want to pay.
“The quality of barite in Nigeria has been proven to be the best because we have engaged international agencies to ascertain the quality of what we have in Nigeria.
“In terms of trying to find data, a lot of money has been sunk in by this ministry in terms of exploring barite deposits but some of this information is already out there. “